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GCSE: Existence of God
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- Peer Reviewed essays 1
There has and always will be questions about the beginning and the making of the universe. Of course, there have been lots of theories, some of them even questioning the existence of God.
Aquinas inspired other philosophers to think up more scientific theories. William Paley had the next breakthrough. In 1743-1805, he believed that everything had to be designed. His explanation said that if you had never seen a watch before and found it on the ground; you would most probably examine it. If you opened the watch up you would find very complex machinery, something that could not just come into being, it would have had to be designed. He then used this to argue that because the universe was so complex, far more complex than a watch, it must have been designed, and the designer being God.
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If you say I don't know and so I can't choose whether God does or does not exist then you actually end up living in THIS world as if he doesn't exist. So Pascal is saying God is or God is not. Pascal said, "Come then, what will you wager?" Although Pascal stated that people needed to make a gamble on God, he also stated that there is a way in winning in the gamble, believing in God. Pascal said that if you are wrong and God exists then you stand to lose a great deal.
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The cosmological argument states that the realistic explanation for the creation of the universe is that there was a 'first cause' that was uncaused by anything existing before it. This 'first cause' is God. God was never created and was always there beyond space and time. This could be perceived as impossible, but if you think of God as a 'spirit' and not matter then this argument makes a lot of sense. There is logic in his argument in the sense that it is true that something could not have sprung from nothing as that is illogical.
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However, everyone is able to agree that the shape of a square has four sides, or the Earth is round. These are natural, and therefore cannot be changed. Aristotle says that we use our reason, which is given to us by the God of Classical Theism according to the Old Testament, to look at nature. This act is known as Synderesis. Once we have done this, we are told that we should apply the laws of nature to how we live our lives.
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And if God is omnipotence, he should be able to make us better, stronger people without making us suffer. 'If we didn't have bad things in the world, we wouldn't appreciate the good things that happen to us.' also shows us God is not omnipotence - what is more - he is not benevolence either. If God is omnipotence, he must have ways to make us appreciate the good things without making us suffering and if this argument is right then God is trying to making us think he is omnibenevolence and give us good things by making us suffer to contrast with the goods to make it even clearer.
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An explanation and evaluation of the different perspectives on religion offered by Richard Dawkins and Alistair McGrath.
Dawkins discredits this idea by stating that the state of mind one needs to be in to believe in religion is one of non-thinking blind faith which is in direct opposition to the logical sequence of testing questioning and retesting any theory no matter the nature of it. Thus one cannot hold a belief in both. He also states that the conclusions these two mindsets come to are in direct opposition on some very important issues such as the origin of man and the universe and on moral codes.
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Before going further, several things need to be clearly defined. 'Certainty' can be translated as assurance or confidence of something to happen or exist. The word 'seen' suggests things that can directly or indirectly be observed. Putting the words together, the notion 'belief has been described as certainty about what cannot be seen' implies the confidence and assurance that are generated about the metaphysical objects, futures and etc. which cannot be observed by naked eyes. Looking at the issue from mathematical vantage point, it is vital to first understand the nature of Mathematics.
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1.) Compare and contrast the Augustinian and Irenaean theodicies and their attempts to solve the problem of evil.
* Metaphysical evil - This refers to such things as imperfection and chance, e.g. deformities. Many think, that surely if God is omniscient, it follows that He knows about the suffering in the world, for if the creator did not know about these abysmal conditions, he could not be termed omniscient. If the assumption that God is benevolent is accepted, then it follows that He should want to prevent any suffering from existing. Once God recognises these conditions of the world and his responsibility to put right what is wrong, God should attempt to stop any suffering, and should be able to if He is indeed omnipotent.
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The origins of these arguments can be traced back to the Greek philosopher Plato (427-347 BCE) who, in his work Timaeus, posited a demiurge of supreme wisdom and intelligence as the creator of the cosmos, a teleological perspective built upon the analysis of a priori [where the proof does not rely on external evidence] order and structure in the world which he had already presented in The Republic. Plato's student Aristotle (384-322 BCE) also developed the idea of a creator of the cosmos, often referred to as the "Prime Mover" in his work Metaphysics, as he argued that all nature reflects inherent purpose and direction.
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The first three ways make up the Cosmological argument. The first way is based on motion. In the world there are things which have been moved, whatever is in motion has been moved. This chain of motion stretches back into history, but cannot go back into infinity; there must have been a first mover. God. Aquinas described motion in terms of actuality and potentiality. Wood has the potential to burn. If I apply fire to it the wood reaches the actuality of burning.
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The watch was created as the universe was created. He uses another example which is the eye (Natural Theology, 1802). The eye is adapted for sight. Its various parts co-operate in complex ways to produce sight. Paley believes that the eye was specifically deigned for the purpose of sight and this complex design suggests a designer. Further more, he uses more evidence and uses an example of the lacteal system. He states that different animals such as the rabbit, the cat, the rat, the bitch etc have different a number of different litters, and numerous paps and are likely to be across the belly.
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He was restored to life to father Horus, help vegetation and have the Nile flood. Osiris was then branded as the ruler of the dead in the underworld. It was said that every mummified Egyptian could become another Osiris, capable of resurrection from the dead and a blessed eternal life. (Civilization Past & Present, pg. 23) Having an Egyptian god as powerful as Osiris, bringing fertility to the land, had to have come as a dependence on the people of Egypt. He was the one who allowed you to and eat and drink, basically to live.
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Also, we must accept his existence because if God is the greatest that we can conceive in the mind then he must exist in reality because if he did not than a greater being can be thought of in the mind that also exists in reality. Therefore God must exist both in the mind and reality. Anselm supports his argument by saying that when 'a fool hears what I am saying... he understands what he hears ... even if he doesn't understand that it exists'.
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After birth the woman would hand over the baby to the husband and wife. These are being used today by couples in Britain supervised by the Human fertilisation and embryology authority there has been many arguments about their morality. This is an Issue for religion because many people who are against fertility treatment accuse doctors for playing as God. However, to the parents concerned about fertility treatment have said it that it is a miracle and say that this is not playing God, its helping one another for a better quality of life. ii)
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Discuss critically the advantages and disadvantages of accepting that New Testament texts are literal.
The univocal, or literal, interpretation of the New Testament was first proposed by Duns Scotus, who believed that "all talk of God is literal" and was further developed by Richardson who said "Univocal is when there is the literal application of language to the reality of God" but there is the risk of anthropomorphising God when a univocal approach is taken, thereby giving God human attributes and personal identifications yet it does claim to refer to something which is cognitively verifiable, even if it does leave itself open to challenges and rejection, as can be seen with the current creationism
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all scientific terms given to the properties of water by human beings. But, these properties were only named and interpreted by human beings; we did not create the names for a specific property and then decide that water must fulfill these conditions. It is the conditions that were already present which were only named and given some sort of explanation by human beings, which cannot be explained by religion, but still exist, thus proving true the saying that "where religion ends, science begins." Almost everyone belongs to a religion, but there are some who choose not to believe in a religion, to believe in the presence of God, but without any strings attached, any rituals or customs to follow, for example myself.
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Therefore he believes that evils origins are from elsewhere; disharmony stems from mankind's choice to rebel and disbelief in God. Through this it enabled a fluctuation of moral evil in an damaged environment removed from Gods guidance. Augustine thinks that God is justified in allowing natural evil to remain as it is a deserved punishment and consequence of sinning "all evil is either sin or a punishment for sin", linking with the temptation and consequent fall of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3.
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There are two parts to Anselm's argument one proving Gods existence and the other proving Gods necessary existence. The first part Anselm makes it unattainable to believe in anything other than that God does exist "his non-existence is rendered impossible" Hall. Even arguing against Gods existence is thought by Anselm to clarify that God does in fact exist as the person must have a concept of God, thus showing that he exists in the mind and thus reality. Anselm states that as God has no limitations due to his perfection, he is not limited within or by time therefore there is no chance for him to cease to exist or a time when he did not exist.
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As God is 'that than which nothing greater can be conceived' he must be that necessary being. This is because it is greater to be necessary than to be contingent. If he was not necessary he would not 'that than which nothing greater can be conceived'. Thus, according to Anselm, God not only exists but God's existence is necessary. Rene Descartes also put the ontological argument forward. Descartes described God, as 'a supremely perfect being' from this definition, like Anselm, he tried to prove God's existence.
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(Destiny, Purpose and Faith, p.68) Paley felt the presence of a designer God was empirically evident all around us. Anything displaying intricate, adaptive, purpose serving qualities must have a designer. In the example of a watch, it is the watch maker. When found in nature, it can only be attributed to God. Charles Darwin's theory of evolution was seen by many to undermine Paley's theory because natural selection explained the development and adaptations within nature without the need for a Higher Intelligence or Designer.
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How can we have knowledge that the premises are true without some a posteriori experience of the world? The Ontological argument unpacks the concept of God to view the ideas that are bundled within. For example; one would explain the concept of a triangle by 'unpacking' its components (i.e. it is a shape with three sides, has internal angles to the measurement of one hundred and eighty degrees and its straight lines join forming angles). In this very same way by 'unpacking' the concept of God we are able to see the attributes of the Western Christian Deity; omnipotent, transcendent, immutable, eternal, omnipresent etc. These predicates of the concept create a perfect view of the ever perfect being.
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An example is that the formal cause of a table is the idea in the carpenters mind. * Efficient Cause - The agent who brings something into existence, in the case of a table the efficient cause would be the actions of the carpenter. * Final Cause, or 'telos' - The final cause, most relevant to freedom, is the idea of a purpose or reason for something to exist. The final cause of a table is to be used for meals etc. Aristotle believed that everything in existence from humans to tables exists as a tool in order to fulfil a particular role.
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This was proposed by Anthony Kenny, who goes on further to say that it goes against the simple fact that people and animals move themselves. Therefore, it would seem that Kenny "wrecks the argument of the First Way", in his own words. Aquinas' Second Way is causation. Nothing can be the cause of itself, as this would mean it would have had to exist before it actually existed. This is a logical impossibility. Aquinas did not believe in an infinite regress but that there must have been a first, uncaused cause.
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How far have the theories of the modern sciencetists about the origin of the universe strengthened the case for the existence of God?
This theory denies that the universe has a beginning. In the steady state view, new matter is continuously created as the universe expands, so that the perfect cosmological principle is adhered to. The theory also states that new galaxies have to be created to fill in the gaps left by old galaxies, thus the continuous creation of new particles of matter is at a rate that is automatically adjusted by the cosmological expansion. Some would say that when this particular theory is analysed does not make any sense, as it fails to deal with how a contingent series of contingent causes could have ever started.
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How far does Swinburne's argument for the existence of God based on religious experience succeed in overcoming the challenges to it?
For example, if someone was sitting on a beautiful sandy beach, then claimed to have a religious experience, it is more likely to that they had that particular experience than it is likely they did not have the experience. If I were then to say, that the person did not have religious experience, it would be up to me to prove them wrong. If I succeed then their claim is false, however if I do not succeed then their claim is true an example of this may be the UK justice system, innocent until proven guilty.
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